noun \ˈher-əm\

: a house or part of a house in which the women of a Muslim household live

: the women who live in a harem in a Muslim household

: a group of women who are associated with one man

Full Definition of HAREM

a :  a usually secluded house or part of a house allotted to women in a Muslim household
b :  the wives, concubines, female relatives, and servants occupying a harem
:  a group of women associated with one man
:  a group of females associated with one male —used of polygamous animals

Examples of HAREM

  1. the pop star and his harem

Origin of HAREM

ultimately from Arabic ḥarīm, literally, something forbidden & ḥaram, literally, sanctuary
First Known Use: 1623

Rhymes with HAREM


noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

In Muslim society, that part of a house set apart for the women of the family or the part from which males not of the family are excluded. Through extension it has come to refer generally to the mandatory seclusion of women from the outside world. Institutions similar to the harem existed in the pre-Islamic civilizations of the Middle East; in the courts of pre-Islamic Assyria, Persia, and Egypt, they were often the loci of political intrigues involving rival court factions. Large harems for wives (and often for concubines) were common in wealthy Middle Eastern households until the 20th century. From the 15th to the 20th century, the great harem, termed the seraglio, of the sultans of the Ottoman Empire housed several hundred women. In Iran—and in parts of Central and South Asia influenced by Persian culture—the institution of seclusion has traditionally been known as purdah. In the present-day Islamic world, seclusion of women is practiced only within conservative communities; concubinage has been generally outlawed. Similar systems have existed in other parts of Asia.

Variants of HAREM

harem Arabic harim


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